Two years later, COVID-19 remains one step ahead


April 13, 2023

Aaron Lavinsky, Star Tribune

Respiratory therapist Lhakpa Tsamchoe listened to the breathing of an intubated COVID patient last month at North Memorial Health Hospital.

Two years of the pandemic have been particularly long for Dr. Richard Palahniuk, Minnesota's first known case of COVID-19.

Since testing positive on March 6, 2020, the retired anesthesiologist has feared the return of the worst illness of his life. He'll never forget days of shivering in a parka while huddled by a fire. Or nights of burning up in sweat-soaked sheets. Or struggling with exhaustion for days or losing his sense of taste and smell for three months.

Only recently has the 77-year-old stepped out with his wife for an early dinner or matinee.

"We're sitting a mile from the nearest other person," he said.


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